In the middle of the Capitol Hill Classic 10K a couple weeks ago, it occurred to me that I hadn’t actually run the full distance of the 6.2 mile race for … well, a while. I say this not to make an excuse for my performance that day, but to highlight the moment when I realized something important: I’ve been setting a lot of training goals without necessarily having a training plan to reach those goals.
It’s not that I’m lazy or unaccustomed to mapping out action plans to help me reach my goals. It’s just that I spent many months—years, even—running the kind of distances that meant I could easily call in a 5K, 10K, or even a half-marathon without specifically training for those distances.
Guess what? I’m not running those distances now, and as I’ve already realized with speed, muscle memory only lasts for so long. And clearly, having a conscious intent to do longer runs does not always translate into actual longer runs. Neither does writing a race on a calendar in pencil, and deciding to “see what happens” in terms of training. So, since I’d like to start running some races (rather than just participating in some races), it’s time to devise, print out and start checking off a formal training plan.
I have four events in mind that I’m going to train for:
- Allen Stone Run-Swim-Run, Virginia Beach, July 21. 1K beach run, 1K ocean swim, 5K boardwalk run.
- Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon over Labor Day weekend.
- The Philadelphia Half-Marathon on Nov. 16.
How serious am I about training for these? I am actually registered for all of the above races. Like, paid actual money and submitted my name and address and emergency contacts and stuff. And after I did so, I sat down with a pencil, highlighter and two calendars to map out an overall sketch of my training plan for the first two:
I will swim at least 3,000 meters twice a week in the roughly eight weeks leading up to the Run-Swim-Run. Thirty minutes of open-water swimming may be substituted for (and is, in fact, preferable to) 3,000-meter pool workouts.
I will run three times per week, as I have been. But I will make sure that one of those runs is a “long run” of at least six miles, building up to at least 10 before the half-marathon.
I’ll chart all of the above in my training log. I may even post the workouts on here, as I did back when I trained for the Virginia Beach Half Marathon in 2010. Back in 2010, my training log looked like this:
And less like this:
In which cases do you map out a training plan versus letting your pre-existing fitness carry you to the finish line? Do you use any other planning tools to keep yourself honest during training cycles?